Thursday, January 24, 2019

100 Albums: "Not Not Me" by Charisma.com

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: Charisma.com
Title: Not Not Me
Released: 2017
Genre: Japanese electro/funk rap


Finally, something good and weird. Charisma.com (who took that name without realizing it was the way commercial URLs are formed in the US) comprises MC Itsuka and DJ Gonchi, who perform songs about working as office ladies. And I just want to get this out of the way: I don't enjoy this music ironically. It's not a novelty. They're good enough that it transcends a genre I don't listen to very much in a language I can't understand.

Not Not Me was the final album they put out before going on hiatus in 2017. It's also the most funk-rock influenced. They don't write the music, but they do choose what music they're going to build songs around, and their early material was almost entirely electronic and dub. They play around a lot with musicality here: I Like It is an ode to 80s and 90s hip-hop (I hear a lot of Beastie Boys in there), Classic Glasses is backed entirely by a fretless bass with no other instrumentation. There's also more pure J-pop here. Not Not Me is a pretty standard pop ballad. Lunch Time Funk is going to make you think of Bruno Mars.

Itsuka is an incredible MC. She uses a low register, eschewing that high-pitched style that's common with female Japanese singers. Beyond that, her flow is just unbelievable. Now, part of this is because Japanese only has five vowel sounds and extremely evenly balanced moras (units of phonological syllable weight) while also being a language that is comfortable with ambiguity and implied meaning. All of this is to say that it gives lyricists a lot of license to deliver rapid-fire lines with a lot of internal rhyme. Just listen to the pre-choruses of Ostubone Rock (linked below) where she will have entire lines where nearly every syllable ends with "O". It's pretty amazing. And DJ Gonchi just oozes stage presence. Watch her in the video for Hate (also linked below) and just see the joie de vivre she has while swinging the axe around.

Further Listening: OLest and Ay Ay Syndrome are great, but they're also more EPs than albums. DIStepping, their other full-length album, is excellent, but it does get a bit samey towards the end. That said, most of their discography might have wound up on this list if not for my one-album-per-artist rule. However, since their albums aren't easy to acquire in the US, I'll point you to two of their better music videos: Otsubone Rock and Hate.

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